Reading various commentaries on the Russia-Georgia war over South Ossetia, I'm struck by all the American pundits who have such strong opinions on whether this little dot of land should belong to one country or the other.
While it's fun to argue over rights, in situations where a separatist province has long enjoyed de facto autonomy, such as South Ossetia or Taiwan, the best thing is usually to do nothing. The formula dreamed up by Nixon, Kissinger, and Chou for Taiwan in 1972 is logically absurd, but it has worked for 36 years, so why fix what isn't broken?
On the other hand, if it's assumed something has to be done about a disputed territory, the optimal way to settle it is often via a mutual auction. If both Russia and Georgia want South Ossetia, they should put their money where there mouths are. Auction off South Ossetia with the highest bidder paying that sum to the loser of the auction.
It's a lot better than war.disputes.